Can’t get no respect: Robin Thicke at Detroit’s Fox Theatre

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Unfortunately for Robin Thicke, the son of Hollywood b-listers Alan Thicke and Gloria Loring, he is often seen as the poor man’s Justin Timberlake. He is actually as talented if not more so than JT. But none of us will ever know that, for he has been labeled a skeezy player by most of the major media.

I have enjoyed his music for about 10 or more years now, since he first came on the scene with his Fifth of Beethoven knock-off “When I Get You Alone” still rocking his dreadlocks and a skateboard. Since that time, he has graduated to three-piece suits and a full orchestra backing him up, though for us old fans in the group, he still plays that original hit … sans skateboard.

[Photo by Author]

I saw him at the Fox Theatre  in Detroit, and he was a fantastic throwback to an earlier, Motown-infused era. He proved himself a marvelous multi-hyphenate musician, and he graciously acknowledged his backup band much earlier in the set than anyone I have ever seen, including digital placards of every musician who supported him. It was the epitome of a “jam session” – a notion which usually leaves me cold, but his sheer joy sold it all.

Yes, he ended the show with the uber-popular “Blurred Lines “– a song that apparently has both Camille Paglia and Gloria Steinem in apoplexy. I’m not sure it’s any more offensive than anything else on the radio these days and it’s infinitely more catchy … Marvin Gaye’s family’s lawsuit notwithstanding.

Let me add, though, that I find the video problematic myself. I am not an apologist for Mr. Thicke. I don’t know if “Blurred Lines” director Diane Martel was co-opting the insane imagery of hip-hop videos to make a satirical statement, to be provocative, or to be exploitative. I have been unclear from my first viewing of it. And some days I think Thicke shot himself in the proverbial foot with this clip. Yet, he also had a hit song because of it, as he had bubbled under for over a decade with few people paying attention to his musical talent.

I suspect he feels this conflict too since the live show had very little of that dubious (gross? misogynistic?) iconography, save the occasional Bond girl silhouette on a rear projection screen. It is a sad indictment of our culture that these kind of stunts are required to get anyone to pay attention. A Faustian bargain to be sure.

IMG_0619The live show was an absolute delight, filled with exceptional craft and an infectious love for Detroit. Thicke, who seems to hail from somewhere left of Malibu, knows his audience and definitely can work a crowd, cannily including covers of hits from Michael Jackson and Al Green. He proved himself an exceptional presence, while lacking a bit of Timberlake’s joie de vivre. Regardless, he held the audience enrapt for a lean and efficient 90 minute set. His opening act, DJ Cassidy offered a wonderful range of current and vintage disco and R&B that meshed nicely with Thicke’s set.

While most of the world has decided they don’t like Robin Thicke for some inexplicable reason, his talent is unimpeachable. If he swaggers his way to a venue near you, I urge you to give his show a shot. He is very talented Hollywood progeny who deserves more respect than he tends to get.

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Reel Roy Reviews is now a book! Please check out this coverage from BroadwayWorld of upcoming book launch events! In addition to online ordering at Amazon or from the publisher Open Books, the book currently is being carried by Bookbound, Common Language Bookstore, and Crazy Wisdom Bookstore and Tea Room in Ann Arbor, Michigan; by Green Brain Comics in Dearborn, Michigan; and by Memory Lane Gift Shop in Columbia City, Indiana. Bookbound and Memory Lane both also have copies of Susie Duncan Sexton’s Secrets of an Old Typewriter series.

9 thoughts on “Can’t get no respect: Robin Thicke at Detroit’s Fox Theatre

  1. ain’t this world full of lemmings/sheep amazing? although I hate to compare humans to animals as animals are far far superior. but there is no accounting for taste or lack of it. I think I would like this guy myself…his mother is a wondrous vocalist! but then I tend to think for myself and have never followed the crowds…not easy but worth it!

    • Amen! You’ve always taught me to think for myself, and I very much appreciate that. I do realize that I left out a very important section I had intended to include about his very strange music video. Take a look. I think it supports your point even more than what I had previously written.

  2. You nail it when you say he made a Faustian bargain. My introduction to the man’s music was the song and the video. And I decided, quite on my own, right then and there, that if that jackass ever said “You know you want it” to my daughter, I’d kick him in the nuts until he died. And then keep beating the body.

    I’m also leery of his choice to rip off a Marvin Gaye song in order to finally get a hit. A court will decide if laws were broken, but listen to Marvin’s original song, and tell me Blurred Lines doesn’t co-opt the riff. There’s no song without it.

    So maybe he’s a swell guy. But the vehicle that launched him into broad public consciousness is rife with red flags — theft and misogyny are a fine how do you do.

    I’m Glad to hear he puts on a good live show, though. And I’m certainly glad my pal Roy had fun!

  3. loved the review, i never really followed rt, but as of late, i’ve been seeing much more of him, he’s become a bit infamous as of late as you know… i saw of video of him at a recent concert, saying how he had separated from his wife and will do anything to win her back, seemed pretty sincere to me. thanks for filling in some of the blanks for me roy )

    • yeah, I do think he’s sincere and probably a bit of lost soul Hollywood kid. I’ve always liked him, and he seemed to have a year of great success and equally odd choices. hopefully all will work out in the end

      On Thu, Mar 13, 2014 at 8:09 PM, Reel Roy Reviews wrote:

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  4. Pingback: “Are we ever going to be better than this?” We Are Your Friends « Reel Roy Reviews

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